South Park: “Doubling Down” Season 21 Episode 7 Review

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“Doubling Down” is an episode that really wants to have its cake and eat it too. Prior to season 21’s premiere, Trey Parker and Matt Stone made it seem like the show was going to take a break from political commentary and go back to the basics of portraying potty mouthed 4th graders going through their lives in suburbia. Well so far, they’ve failed spectacularly. Each episode has given us a reason to ruminate on what’s going on in Washington and elsewhere, not to mention in some really uncomfortable ways.

But “Doubling Down” finally seems like the show wants to settle into the stripped back promise with its simple plot of Cartman being indecisive on his relationship and Kyle potentially having a crush on Heidi. At least until we cut to Garri-Trump gearing up to celebrate the one-year anniversary of winning the election. But more on that later. For the most part, the kids’ storyline is actually quite good, one of the only pieces of the season that’s been genuinely enjoyable. The ending was a little difficult to swallow, as Heidi not only realizes she wants to leave Kyle and go back to Cartman, but winds up gaining the latter’s anti-Semetic outlook. “Did she just call me a dirty Jew?” Kyle hilariously says after Heidi breaks things off. Indeed she did, and I wonder if this will ruin the clever dynamic between Cartman and Heidi.

Since Heidi was introduced, the highlight of her presence has been how stark a foil she is for Cartman. At first, he tried his best to be better for her, but now he’s bored and detests her and all her niceties. That goes away if they’re both anti-Semetic. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see how their relationship progresses, but it is a little frustrating for the characters to go through this and not only have things go back to normal at the end, but get worse.

Amazingly, this all had literally nothing to do with the events happening at the White House in “Doubling Down.” South Park usually tries to string their plots together, however forcefully they have to, but not here. Garri-Trump’s anniversary is just left to dangle all on its own, and it’s almost better that way, as it gets to do what it wants without having to force a tie into South Park Elementary’s romantic squabble. And having Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell scheming in fear was pretty satisfying (McConnell says, “I don’t know anything, I’m just a turtle,” and I think my burst of laughter shook the walls).

But for all its disjointed maneuverings and the odd ending, “Doubling Down” is still somehow one of the better episodes of this lackluster season. That is, sadly, a testament to how much South Park is failing its rich legacy this year. But then, how many shows do you know that made it to season 21 without a scratch? Grade: C+

By Matt Dougherty

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